Jubilee beacons boost manufacturing

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionManaging Director Andrew Williams said it was a "great honour" to make the church tower beacons

On 4 June people around the world will light a network of beacons for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, the Commonwealth and UK Overseas Territories 4,000 beacons will be lit.

As part of the celebrations religious buildings are being encouraged to light a church tower beacon to mark the occasion.

The organisers asked a Birmingham company to design a special beacon with a diamond shaped burner for the event.

The official Queen's Diamond Jubilee beacons have proved so popular that Bullfinch Gas Equipment Ltd, based in Tyseley, has had to stop taking orders after demand was higher than expected.

Bruno Peek, pageant master for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Beacons, said: "We asked Bullfinch to produce a gas-fired beacon with a diamond head on the top so it also becomes a bit of a souvenir.

"Over 600 beacons have been purchased for buildings for all different faiths."

Religious buildings planning to light beacons include the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Hindu Temple, in Oldbury, in the West Midlands, and St Mary's Parish church, an Anglican church in Moseley, Birmingham.

Mr Peek added that another company in Scotland had been asked to supply beacons to help them keep up with demand.

21cc Fireworks, based in Edinburgh, is still taking orders for its church tower beacons after Bullfinch received 100 more entries than expected.

Image caption A total of 600 beacons have been ordered from Bullfinch

Bullfinch, which separately is also making the burners for the Olympic relay torches, was approached by the organisers of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee event after it had provided beacons to be lit along Hadrian's Wall in 2010.

The two metre (six foot) high Jubilee beacon, which uses propane gas cylinders, can burn for up to two hours.

Steve Ewer, works manager, said the Jubilee contract was the biggest order they had ever had for beacons.

Business downsized

The company, which normally makes blowtorches and heaters for the building industry, is hoping it will lead to further contracts from organisers of public events in the future.

Five members of staff on temporary contracts have been taken on to complete both the torch burners and the beacons.

Image caption The flame burns about three metres (10ft) high

Mr Ewer said: "Business hadn't been fantastic and we'd had to downsize over the last five years.

"We have two companies in the same factory now but at one time we had two separate sites.

"It brings it home how important these big events are to a small company - we've increased our workforce by 30% in the last six to nine months so hopefully this contract will lead to other things and permanent work for those people."

When lit the beacon's flame reaches a height of about three metres (10ft).

Each part has had to be specially designed by the company, with businesses across England being involved in producing the various components.

The beacons are then assembled and tested at the factory in Birmingham.

At present the company has completed half of the orders with the other half due to be finished in two weeks.

They will then be sent all over the UK with some going further afield to places including Canada, Ireland and St Helena in the South Atlantic.

Managing Director Andrew Williams said he was looking forward to seeing footage of the burners lit across the country.

"It's amazing to be involved in the Jubilee," he said.

"The staff have done very well in the design, production, and every part of the business. We're proud of the whole team."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites